Wednesday Recipes: Italian Edition

Wednesday Recipes: Italian Edition

It’s been a while since we saw some good Italian dishes posted here. So, for this week’s recipes, we went out and tracked down a couple of great ones to share with you. Italian foods are always a smorgasbord of spices and flavors so be certain to give these a try the next time you’re having guests over. Everyone loves Italian and, with Italian, there’s something for everyone to love!

Grandma’s Focaccia: Baraise Style

Ingredients
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup reserved potato water
2 pounds all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 (0.6 ounce) cake compressed fresh yeast
1 (29 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (2 ounce) can anchovy fillets, chopped
Dried oregano to taste

Directions
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender but firm, about 15 minutes. When the potatoes are done, remove from heat, and drain, reserving one cup of potato water. Pour the flour and 1 tablespoon of salt out onto a clean dry surface. Make a well in the center, and use a ricer to rice the potatoes into the center. Knead the flour and potatoes together as best you can, and then make another well in the center. Dissolve the yeast in the potato water, then pour the mixture into the well. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth, and no longer sticky.

Divide the dough into halves, and form into balls. Flour heavily, and cover with a few towels to prevent drafts. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat two large cookie sheets with olive oil.

Press the dough out evenly onto the pan. Press indentations into the sheets with your fingers every couple of inches. Divide the can of tomatoes in half, and spread onto each sheet evenly. Place the onion and anchovies onto the sheets, and press in lightly. Sprinkle with salt and oregano to taste. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until bottom is browned. Let cool to room temperature, then cut into squares using a pizza wheel.

Italian Meatballs

Ingredients
3 pounds lean ground beef
5 tablespoons ground oregano
5 tablespoons dried parsley, crushed
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
2 cups Italian-style dry bread crumbs
3 (28 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 10×15 inch jelly-roll pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, oregano, parsley and garlic. Mix in onion soup mix and seasoned bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly. Using a 1 ounce scoop, scoop and shape the meat mixture into balls. Place in the prepared pan and bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour or until meatballs are browned and cooked through. In a large pot over high heat, bring the spaghetti sauce to a boil and add cooked meatballs. Reduce heat and simmer for 4 hours.

Have You Taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

If you’ve been hanging around the web at all this past week, you’ve no doubt seen (or at least heard of) the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge where people are challenged to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads and then challenge others to do the same with the underlying message being to help raise donations for ALS research (ALS is popularly called “Lou Gerhig’s disease”). Thus far, the Ice Bucket challenge has raised over $15 million dollars.

Obviously, it’s working.

Now, using celebrities (and, for the most part, the people participating in the Ice Bucket challenge have been celebrities) to raise awareness for a charity is nothing new. Many celebrities use their fame and fortune to help causes they find worthy by giving speeches, encouraging others to donate and/or volunteer, paying for television campaigns, asking that their production studios contribute, and many other things. However, what is new is the use of the Internet in recent years and the use of a viral video-style of spreading the word. In the past, videos requesting donations have generally followed the more traditional television format where the speaker is outlining the need for donations and the purpose of the charity itself. However, with the Ice Bucket challenge, the charity and the name of the campaign are mentioned, with maybe a brief explanation of what ALS is and what the drive is for, but the “meat” of the video is the person dousing themselves with ice water and then their reaction to it. That is what has helped this charity drive to go viral and to be shared across websites, social media, and more.

It has only been within the past few years that such a campaign could be possible. For this to work, many people need to have access to high-speed Internet connections that can stream video from services such as YouTube. They also need to have social media sites where sharing links to the video is easy to do and where each share reaches progressively more and more people. Video cameras also need to be widely available and relatively inexpensive and uncomplicated, allowing a novice to capture video that is clear and without too much camera-shake where the camera is being held by another human. These cameras also need to be able to transfer the video, in a usable but not overly-large file size and format, to a computer easily. The final thing that makes this challenge so successful is that it doesn’t ask for much of the participant. A bucket. Some ice. Some water. Normal gravity conditions. Those are all things that anyone can find for under $10. The humor of seeing another human being pouring ice-cold water over their head and their reaction to it is enough for anyone to want to share the video with their friends and family — especially if the celebrity in the video is one they especially like (such as, oh, Tom Hiddleston).

The Internet and the technological revolution have had many impacts on people’s lives and the way that business is conducted. Twenty years ago, such a charity drive would never have been dreamed of. However, today, not only can we watch these videos and learn more about how we can help bring an end to a dreadful disease, we can even donate from the comfort of our home without having to make a phone call or post a letter.

Technology. Isn’t it just awesome?

Wrapping Up the Week

Wrapping Up the Week

The end of an eventful week has finally come and we look forward to another week, albeit one with a bit less tragedy. On Monday, Robin Williams passed away in his home in California. The Internet has been filled with tributes to this great actor and comedian who will be sorely missed by all he left behind. This week has also been a big week for space news with the annual supermoon and news about the ESA Rosetta probe that is slated to land on a comet in order to transmit information back to Earth so we can better understand these solar citizens. Amazon and Hatchette are still at each other’s throats over eBook prices and DefCon 2014 took place with an emphasis on ways to secure one’s privacy from government snoops.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the highlights for you below.

That’s all for this week, everyone. Have a great weekend and see you again next week!

Shark Week: Diving Gear and Technology

Shark Week: Diving Gear and Technology

This week is Shark Week and to help join in the fun and science, we’re going to look into some of the gear, gadgets, and technology that go into most shark dives. Some of the equipment we’ll discuss is available on the market for consumers but we would like to stress that novice SCUBA divers and those who are not experienced in dealing with marine wildlife should not just jump in. Sharks are one of nature’s deadliest predators and they can out-swim even the fastest human being. If you’re planning your first shark dive, be certain you take along an expert!

1) Normal SCUBA gear — First on the list are the things anyone would take on a normal SCUBA dive: a wetsuit, fins, a face mask, snorkel, oxygen tanks, regulators, weights. All of these things can be rented at a dive shop.

2) Shark bite protection gear — This will either be a cage that the diver will be placed in or a chainmail suit worn over the wetsuit that will prevent the shark bite from being fatal. If you are going shark diving, then the shop or group running the dive should have these. The suit works by preventing the concentration of force from the shark’s teeth with the result that the diver escapes with bruises instead of worse.

3) Cameras — There’s no point in going shark diving if you’re not going to get some video or photos. Divers will want to look into purchasing or renting a camera capable of working at up to 60 feet underwater, that has controls that can be easily adjusted while wearing thick gloves, and has good built-in lighting with good manual controls. Photographing sharks can be tricky since their white underbellies make it very easy to over-expose them so get familiar with the camera you’ll be using ahead of time. You’ll want a lens with not too wide a range on it as wide-angle and “larger” lenses are not well-suited to shark photography. A 2-24mm or 17-35mm is best so long as it is fairly fast and has a maximum aperture of F2.8 to F4.

SCUBA diving is great fun and one of the best ways to see sharks. However, as any diver will tell you, safety is paramount even in a dive in a swimming pool. If you are planning to join a shark dive, make certain to do plenty of research ahead of time so that your dive is fun and safe!

Wednesday Recipes: Barbeque Edition

Wednesday Recipes: Barbeque Edition

Here at BuyDig, if there’s one thing we love more than gadgets and tech, it’s barbeque. There’s just something magical about going back to our earliest roots and cooking meat over an open flame. I don’t know if it’s the smell of the fire consuming the wood or charcoal, the savory hint of supper in the air, or just being outdoors in the evening (or in the shade) and cooking instead of cooped up inside trying to beat the heat but barbequing is something that just about everyone can enjoy. So, this week’s recipes are a couple of good ones to try the next time you decide to fire up the grill!

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken

Ingredients
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon steak sauce
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Directions
Preheat the grill for medium heat. In a shallow bowl, mix the mustard, honey, mayonnaise, and steak sauce. Set aside a small amount of the honey mustard sauce for basting, and dip the chicken into the remaining sauce to coat. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill chicken over indirect heat for 18 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, or until juices run clear. Baste occasionally with the reserved sauce during the last 10 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent burning!

Italian Rib Eye

Ingredients
10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 (10 ounce) boneless beef ribeye steaks, cut 1 inch thick

Directions
Place the garlic, oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary, and salt into a mortar or small bowl, and mash into a coarse paste. Stir in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and white pepper until evenly blended. Scrape half of the mixture into a separate small bowl; set aside. Spread the remaining half of the herb mixture evenly over the steaks. Set aside to marinate for 1 hour. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil the grate. Cook the steaks on the preheated grill for 7 minutes, then turn over, and coat with the reserved herb mixture. Continue cooking 7 minutes more for medium-well, or until your desired degree of done-ness has been reached.

Recipes via Allrecipes.com

In Memoriam: Robin Williams

In Memoriam: Robin Williams

As many of you are no doubt aware, Robin Williams, one of America’s best-known and most well-loved comedians and actors, passed away at his home in Marin County, California yesterday. He was 63.

Robin Williams was known for his humor, his ability to make people laugh, and his gentle nature. Even in his most dramatic roles, he brought a depth of talent and humor that could make even the darkest part of the film brighter. Williams never let himself be pigeonholed as “the funny man.” He took on roles like Chris Nielsen in What Dreams May Come, Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting, John Keating in Dead Poets Society, and Dr. Malcolm Sayer in Awakenings. In each of those films, Williams was able to bring to life a complex, complicated, and sometimes dark character and give them a depth and lightness that transcended a man merely acting a role. And, even when he was playing an irreverent funny-man, such as in Good Morning, Vietnam or Aladdin, he handled the darker twists of the plot with a humanity that helped to make those films such rich and enjoyable experiences.

Williams got his start by playing the alien Mork in Happy Days and his character’s popularity was such that it resulted in a spin off — the well-known (and still one of my personal favorites) show Mork and Mindy. From there, he went on to headline several stand-up comedy acts such as Off The Wall, An Evening with Robin Williams, and Robin Williams: Live at the Met. He went on to star in some of the his most famous roles — several of which have already been listed — and in some roles in films that have a very strong following despite not achieving box-office or critical success. One of these films is my all-time personal favorite Williams film: Bicentennial Man.

If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you. The role Williams played in that film was something akin to the “man from Mars” type role he played as Mork. However, the humor in Bicentennial Man was much more poignant and moving. In the scenes between Williams and Australian actor Sam Neill, the emotions are palpable and I think that anyone who doesn’t at least have a hitch in their breath during the final scene with those two actors doesn’t have a heart. There are many other parts in the movie where Williams’ humor and gentle nature bring a smile to the lips and a tear to the eyes which is why, even if it flopped at the box office, I think that Bicentennial Man is one of the best films made in the late twentieth century.

What are some of your favorite Robin Williams roles or moments? And, if you had the chance to meet him, what would you say to him? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Wrapping Up the Week

Wrapping Up the Week

Another Friday brings a close to another week in the world of information, technology, and gadgetry. This week has been a big week for drones and tablets with talk of them dominating the news. Not to be outdone, however, the on-going tech patent war has been raging between all the major players and poor, pathetic Prenda is still trying to wriggle its way out of trouble and managing to make judges very, very angry.

All of these stories and more were featured in our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the top stories for you below!


That’s all for this week, everyone. Have a great weekend and see you again next week!

Speakers For College Students

Speakers For College Students

College students across the country are packing up their cars and getting ready to move into their dorms for the start of the school year. For those who have done this before, they already know what to expect and what to take. For those who are just entering their freshman year, the tendency to over- or under-pack is fairly high. And, while everyone is certain to have their smartphone and some great headphones with them to help with those late-night cramming sessions, not too many students stop to think about how to provide the jams for an impromptu dorm party.

Well, wonder no more. We have some really great portable speaker sets designed to work with smartphones and computers — at affordable prices for the college student and their parents!

1) Urge Basics Superior Sound Soundbrick Bluetooth Stereo Speaker with Built-in Mic — This great and light-weight portable speaker box from Urge Basics is compatible with the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and most Bluetooth-enabled tablets and devices. There’s no need to worry about USB-to-device cables here or to try to store your entire music library on a thumb drive. It even has a built-in mic for karaoke sessions or for being heard over the crowd!

2) Xit Triangular Bluetooth Speaker — Another Bluetooth speaker that can function with a variety of Bluetooth-enabled devices, this small and super light-weight speaker from Xit can easily be carried in a backpack or purse and can function as a back-up in car sound system. Also, if you don’t have a Bluetooth device with you, this speaker comes with an AUX cord that can be used to plug in non-Bluetooth devices for playback!

3) Urge Basics DropNplay Wireless Speaker — If you are having problems with Bluetooth or just don’t want to bother with risking it — especially if you’re going to be in an area where there are a lot of Bluetooth devices competing to connect to your speaker — then Urge Basics has the DropNplay Wireless speaker set-up. Just plug it into your device’s headphone jack and you’re good to go!

4) Sony Portable NFC Bluetooth Wireless Speaker System — Sony, one of the most dependable names in sound (and more), has a great portable speaker that, like some of the others listed already, works over Bluetooth with most Bluetooth-enabled devices. This speaker also features a unique speaker-grill set-up that lets it broadcast music in an omni-directional manner instead of the more traditional “in frontal cone only” that you find with most other speakers.

5) iLuv Syren NFC-Enabled Bluetooth Portable Speaker — Last but certainly not least is this great portable speaker with bass boosting capabilities from iLuv. Streaming music from its assigned device via Bluetooth, this speaker also has a 360° grill system. With a built-in mic, it can also make a great karaoke player, announcement-amplifier, or a way to take a hands-free speaker call when the party is over and you’re headed back home!

College is a great time in a student’s life. It’s one of the most intensive study periods (if you’re doing it right) of your life. However, just because it’s time to hit the books doesn’t mean that you can’t occasionally break loose and have fun listening to great music with friends!

Wednesday Recipes: Eggs-cellent Edition

Wednesday Recipes: Eggs-cellent Edition

We’ve done meat, veggies, fruits, drinks, and desserts here at the BuyDig Blog. However, I can’t remember if we’ve done an entry dedicated to egg dishes that wasn’t also a breakfast post. Well, regardless, today we have a couple of great egg recipes for you to add as either a side-dish or an appetizer at your next dinner gathering!

Egg Salad for Sandwiches

Ingredients
8 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup chopped green onion
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Directions
Place egg in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and chop. Place the chopped eggs in a bowl, and stir in the mayonnaise, mustard and green onion. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Stir and serve on your favorite bread or crackers.

Egg and Cheddar Quesadillas

Ingredients
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
12 eggs, beaten
1 cup salsa
8 spinach OR flour tortillas (8-inch)
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (4 oz.)

Directions
Heat the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Pour in the eggs. As the eggs begin to set, gently pull them across the pan with an inverted turner, forming large soft curds. Add salsa and continue cooking – pulling, lifting and folding the eggs – until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Do not stir constantly.

Spoon the eggs onto 4 tortillas, dividing evenly. Sprinkle them evenly with cheese and then cover with remaining tortillas. Place them in a clean skillet coated with cooking spray and heat over medium-low heat until hot. Toast the quesadillas, one at a time, just until cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Cut them into quarters to serve.

Drone Photography Gear

Drone Photography Gear

Drone photography — a type of aerial photography that is done using some kind of remote-controlled flyer (hence “drone”) — is becoming more and more popular. Early adopters in this field were forced to modify remote control airplanes or helicopters or to build their own kits which, of course, generally required a good bit of knowledge of electrical engineering, aeronautics, and the physics of lift and flight. However, with its popularity on the rise, drone manufacturers and camera companies have begun working on professional and consumer-oriented drone kits such as the DJI Phantom Series.

Now, before you get all excited and rush off to order one of these so you can send your nicest camera up in the air, take a step back and let’s go over some basics and advice for getting started in drone photography.

1) If you’re not already an experienced remote control (RC) helicopter operator, become one — Flying a photography drone will take some practice even if you’re experienced in handling RC helicopters. However, if you’re not experienced in that, then you’ll want to become proficient at it before you start flying a much more expensive drone with your camera attached to it. Go to any toy store and purchase an inexpensive helicopter and practice with it — indoors (but in a large, open room) at first and once you have mastered taking-off, landing, and basic maneuvering, take it outdoors on a non-windy day.

Trust me, you’ll be less upset if you destroy or lose an inexpensive toy than you would be if you destroyed or lost an expensive drone + camera.

2) Find a drone photography group or an RC helicopter group and get some tips — These are the people who can really teach you about local air conditions and how to deal with things like wind, humidity, atmospheric pressure (especially if you’re living in a mountainous region), and how to handle or stabilize a craft. They can also give you a lot of advice on how to deal with birds and flying insects that might take exception to your drone.

3) Learn the rules of where you want to fly your drone — Not every place is open to drone photography. Certain national parks forbid the use of drones in specific areas of the park or even in the entire park. Some cities forbid the use of drones near certain buildings or landmarks. Some have rules on when drones can be flown and at what height. Check with a local photography group or a local RC aircraft group in the place you’re planning to visit to get the rules for their locale. Ignorance of the law will be no excuse if you get caught.

4) Even where permitted, some people will freak out — Even if the park or city you’re photographing is perfectly fine with drones zipping about, some of the people there will not be. Chances are that if you engage in drone photography long enough, you will have someone alert the authorities. If you’ve followed #3, you’ll know if you’re in the right or in the wrong. However, you may want to make certain you have some connection to photography legal groups such as PINAC in case you run afoul of an overzealous law enforcement officer. If you are asked to stop or to explain yourself by another citizen, remember to be polite and be willing to promise not to film or photograph them if they ask.

It should go without saying, but don’t fly your drone close to houses or apartment buildings as you can quite quickly run afoul of both trespassing and peeping Tom laws if you do this.

5) The conditions on the ground are not always the conditions above the ground — Just because it’s not windy where you are doesn’t mean the wind isn’t blowing once you get a few dozen feet up. Pay attention to your craft and respond to what’s going on around it, not what’s going on around you.

Drone photography can be very fun and can net some unique and interesting photos and video footage. However, before you get started, it’s a good idea to study the craft a bit. Making your first drone photography flight with better preparation can help save you a lot of stress and money further down the road!